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On The Floor

"And the crowd goes wild..." David Gura, NPR hide caption

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David Gura, NPR

As I wrote yesterday, security here at the Democratic National Convention is heavy. Credentials are hard to come by, and the lines to get into the Pepsi Center are long.

There are more than 40 NPR employees here, working on our coverage. Engineers, producers, editors, and reporters. And although almost everyone has a perimeter pass, which lets us into the area surrounding the Pepsi Center and INVESCO Field at Mile High, there aren't enough arena and floor credentials to go around.

Reporters get them, of course. And a few producers and editors do too. Our Political Junkie, Ken Rudin, was on the floor last night, wrangling guests for Debbie Elliot and Audie Cornish. If there are any to spare, left unused, our boss passes them out. Last night, from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., I got hold of a coveted floor credential, just in time for Michelle Obama's speech.

A few producers and I walked from our workspace to the Pepsi Center. On the way over, we passed Bill O'Reilly (so tall!), Arianna Huffington (so small!), and Vernon Jordan (also tall!). Once we got inside the [first] set of gates, we had to walk another few-hundred yards to the security line, which was really just a giant mass of delegates and journalists.

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Inside the Pepsi Center, we took the escalators up to "Radio Row," a part of the concourse filled with tables for an assortment of local and national radio broadcasters. I picked up my pass there, and walked down to the floor, by the delegates from Delaware and Illinois, between the NBC News and CBS News sets.

Minutes later, the lights in the hall dimmed. A video, narrated by Michelle Obama's mother, introduced us to the evening's main speaker. Then her brother, the coach of the men's basketball team at Oregon State University, took to the stage. The crowd went wild, and not for the first time. Volunteers made their way through the audience, passing out posters. When he asked the crowd to welcome his sister, signs and hands were up in the air, obscuring the stage.

Back at the workplace, after the speech, we swapped notes. Who liked the speech? Who didn't? What was she trying to get across? And what did we think of the Obama daughters?

Tonight: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner are scheduled to speak. If I make it in, I'll report back tomorrow.